This is my first blog entry in months and months....so I'm going to make it a good and titillating one, that you won't soon forget.
About six months after I moved to NYC, I started living in what was perhaps the shittiest apartment building in Manhattan, near the southern border of the neighborhood known as Hell's Kitchen....in the West 30's. The place was shady to say the least, but my room was relatively cheap, I paid in cash, and the landlord usually left me alone, which is usually just fine with me. But this landlord was the kind of guy who, on one hand, would lock someone out of his apartment if he didn't pay his rent on time....and on the other, would have letters from lawyers (and even The People's Court, once) piling up by the mail boxes because of unreturned security deposits (and, I'm sure that it's no coincidence that I never got mine back). His name was Kamal, but he asked to be called "John." File that in the back of your mind if you're looking at apartments/rooms in that neighborhood.
So, to begin with, these were anything but deluxe accommodations. There was no living room (I used to point at the tall buildings and streets outside when friends came over, and exclaim, "NEW YORK CITY is my fucking LIVING room, ok?!!" Hahahahaha), and nothing but the most basic of amenities (the kitchen and bathroom were at least sufficient). The walls between the bedrooms (and between each apartment) were paper thin at best, and shoddily put together. Hell, I believe there was even open space at the top of my bedroom wall...which I think I covered up with something. We all need a LITTLE bit of privacy, by God!
Well, it turns out that I didn't have as much of that as I had hoped.
One night I decided to stay in and get some decent rest and a little peace of mind. I was lying in my bed listening to the Verve, and just starting to go to sleep. Do you know the feeling when you're trying to sleep, and for some reason, you get taunted by these pesky, unexplainable, spontaneous itches? Well, that's what I thought was happening. But then...something....fucking HURT all of the sudden. I shot out of my bed, and there, on my leg, was this little reddish-black bug, feasting on me. I pulled the blankets back and there were a couple more of them. I grabbed a tissue and....well, crushed them. They became red splotches against the white tissue. BLOOD! I pulled my mattress back, and there was a mini-New York City of BEDBUGS going on...in MY BED!!!! The HORROR!!!!
I don't recall having felt so terrified or helpless at any point in my life, before or since. But I had to do something....these were the days when I had work in the morning. So, I think I found some bleach or some similar cleaning product and a bunch of rags, and basically caused a mini-chemical tsunami on the city beneath my mattress and temporarily remedied the situation enough to get a somewhat decent night's sleep.
I felt trapped because I didn't have the wherewithal at the time to just pick up and split; Craig's list wasn't really happening yet, so it was WAY harder to find a roof then. Complaints to my landlord fell on deaf ears, and from what I heard, the entire building was infested. FUCK!.
The best solution I could come up with was to clean everything up as best I could, get a new mattress....then my roommate and I would get Raid "bug bombs", which were essentially, bug sprays that you'd open up, then leave the apartment for a few hours while they emptied out and did their work. It didn't really harm the bugs, but at least it scared them into neighboring apartments, and kept them out of ours, for the most part....until we finally just couldn't take it anymore, and split.
Whenever I walk by there, I usually utter some kind of expletive. The memories are deeply ingrained I guess.
There was one funny thing that happened because of our bedbug problem. I very briefly dated a girl who lived a very privileged life in her dad's HUGE apartment in a Park Avenue high rise....but he was never home. Anyway, once, she decided so "slum it" and spend a night at my place. A couple of days later, she called me up, said something about having some kind of bug bites, and asked if this might have come from my apartment.
In my best Jackie Chiles from Seinfeld voice, I quickly blurted, "I-dunno-anything-about-it!" and hung up the phone. I haven't heard from her since. Sorry about that.
Anyway....needless to say, I don't miss those days one bit!
Thanks for reading! I know it wasn't easy. Hell, I'm itching all over now just from writing it....ahahaha....I think!